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2016-08-30 1:18 pm

Marion Berry's House Member Office (D-AR-01) posted a Blog Post on August 30, 2016 | 1:18 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

Burma: A Pro-Growth Economy in the Making

Hillary Clinton's State Department Office (D) posted a Blog Post on August 30, 2016 | 12:57 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

When Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visits the White House in September for the first time as Burma's State Counselor, she will be focused on something more sustainable than the positive acclaim she can expect everywhere: building the economic component of our relationship.

Of course, her personal story  --  and by extension, Burma's  --  always bears retelling. The last time Daw Aung San Suu Kyi came to the United States, she was a member of parliament. Before that, she couldn't visit at all because she was a political prisoner under a military regime. But now, after decades of military rule, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw head a legitimately-elected civilian government.

More than 100 men and women -- once political prisoners themselves -- are now parliamentarians. And the new government has begun the laborious and patient process of building a democracy and an economy -- virtually from scratch.

And there's the rub. 

Burma's full transition to an enduring democracy and inclusive economic growth is a work in progress. There are serious challenges ahead, in terms of human rights, labor rights and structural impediments to economic growth.

Recognizing this, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be eager to demonstrate to her people that there are economic benefits to this democratic transition. To achieve that, she will work to convince American businesses that Burma is truly open for business with a secure and dependable democracy and a pro-business investment climate.

Our broader diplomatic efforts have been committed to supporting that outcome, from easing sanctions against the former government to working with the new government to build trade and investment.

And as the State Department's leading advocate for America's economic and business interests abroad, I have worked with my Bureau within the Department, my interagency colleagues, and U.S. companies to help fulfill the same agenda.

That is why, in support of Secretary Kerry's American Innovation Roadshow series across Asia and President Obama's U.S.-ASEAN Connect initiative, I led a business delegation to Burma this month.

Accompanied by senior executives from IBM, General Motors, the Omidyar Network, and Deloitte, among others, I met with the new ministers of the democratically-elected government -- some of whom had been in prison for decades following their involvement in the pro-democracy movement.

We discussed a variety of topics, from the importance of an investment environment that supports transparency, predictability, and rule of law to building smart cities. And we underscored that U.S. businesses don't just invest abroad; they empower local communities, they model responsible business practices, and they bring international best practices, high standards, and new technologies to the economy.

Our visit was not restricted to government meetings, however. We went in search of the people who will be Burma's greatest economic asset: its entrepreneurs.

As a former CEO myself, I enjoyed participating on a panel at Phandeeyar, with US-ASEAN Business Council leaders, where we listened and responded to the business pitches of young entrepreneurs. Their innovative spirit reaffirmed for me that Burma's young nation is more than ready to help grow their economy, given the opportunity.

It should be remembered that, in the 1940s and 1950s, Burma's rural productivity was so high, the country was often referred to as the "rice bowl" of the region. With more people empowered and engaged in the agricultural sector than any other, it is clear that reviving Burma's rural entrepreneurial spirit will be critical towards building better lives for the Burmese people.

We saw many examples of that growing spirit. In one village, for example, Coca-Cola has partnered with the NGO "PACT" on a micro-banking initiative called Swan Yi. This initiative empowers women by helping them save money, access credit, and start small businesses.

We were invited to witness a circle of women convening one of their regular meetings to support and expand local businesses. I was particularly moved by the pride of one woman as she showed us the herd of goats she now owned as a result of this initiative. Thanks to a loan from this group, she can begin to build her own sustainable livestock farm.

These and other highlights during a memorable visit brought some powerful truths home. Burma is still a fledgling democracy and a nascent economy, squinting at the bright light of opportunity. But it has the potential and the resources to build a better future for its people.

Those resources include Burma's natural wealth; from timber and precious stones to natural gas and oil. And by 2025, Burma is projected to be within a five-hour flight of more than half of the world's consumers.

Finally, there is Burma's most important resource: its people -- whose economic potential has yet to be fully realized.

Through our ongoing diplomatic engagement and our U.S. investors, we will continue to support the people of Burma every step of the way. By standing together, I'm confident our countries can build mutual prosperity and ever broader opportunities for our people.

About the Author: About the Author: Charles H. Rivkin serves as the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears on Medium.com and on the Huffington WorldPost's Blog.

For More Information: 

2016-08-30 11:19 am

Marion Berry's House Member Office (D-AR-01) posted a Blog Post on August 30, 2016 | 11:19 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

2016-08-30 9:19 am

Marion Berry's House Member Office (D-AR-01) posted a Blog Post on August 30, 2016 | 9:19 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

CBS News Highlights the Faces Behind Rare Disease

The House Energy and Commerce Committee (R) posted a Press Release on August 30, 2016 | 9:08 am - Original Item - Comments (View)
[[{"fid":"1431","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"181","width":"306","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Some of the faces behind the “Beyond the Diagnosis” traveling exhibit. “Beyond the Diagnosis” is a collection of portraits of children battling rare disease. The goal of the exhibit is to feature a portrait of a child for every known rare disease – 7,000. “It’s ambitious, but we’re going to do it,” Patricia Weltin of the Rare Disease United Foundation told CBS Sunday Morning. Weltin is familiar with the issue because her two daughters have rare diseases. [[{"fid":"1432","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"200","width":"360","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Bertrand is the first patient to ever be diagnosed with NGLY1 deficiency, which prompts him to have countless seizures each day. So far, 60 portraits have been completed by artists from around the world. CBS Sunday Morning reporter Jim Axelrod recently visited the exhibit. In his reflections, Axelrod noted, “You don’t just see Gaucher disease, you see Noah. You don’t just see Sturge-Weber, you see Ashlynn. You don’t just see Moebius syndrome, you see Miriam.” Lucas Kolasa, one of the artists participating in the exhibit described it as a “personal experience.” “It becomes very difficult to actually paint, because I start to fully understand what this kid is going through and what the family’s going through,” said Kolasa. “And then it is no longer a portrait to me.” [[{"fid":"1433","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"160","width":"423","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Sam Buck has vanishing white matter (VWM) disease. Today, Sam Buck will celebrate his 6th birthday. Buck has vanishing white matter (VMW) disease, which is typically has a lifespan of 10. “‘Every birthday feels like it’s another year less that you have,’ said Sam’s mother, Allyson Buck. … There is still so much we want to do with him, and so much we want to see.” But there is hope. The effort to deliver #CuresNow has been a 3-year-long journey to deliver hope to patients and their loved ones. H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, will bring our health care innovation infrastructure into the 21st century by accelerating the critical process of discovering, developing, and delivering cures and treatments. [[{"fid":"1434","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"152","width":"281","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Putting a face on rare, incurable diseases When children are dying of rare diseases that few people are working to cure, a closer look is required -- which is just what one committed artist is providing. Our Cover Story is reported by Jim Axelrod: His name is Sam Buck. And while his high-wattage-smile and infectious laugh may remind you of a favorite nephew, there is virtually no chance you’ve ever met a kid like him. Sam, who will turn six on Tuesday, is one of just 250 people in the world who suffer from vanishing white matter (VWM) disease -- a brain disorder that destroys white matter, a substance that helps transmit neural impulses, and leads to the loss of motor control. There is no cure -- and the disease is typically fatal by the age of 10. “Every birthday feels like it’s another year less that you have,” said Sam’s mother, Allyson Buck. “’Don’t turn six, ‘cause you are getting closer to ten?’” Axelrod asked. “Exactly. There is still so much we want to do with him, and so much we want to see.” Allyson and her husband, Nick, have kept careful track in the three years since their son’s diagnosis, as Sam’s speech has slowed down, and his ability to walk slowly erodes -- leaving him now unable even to stand. “I think it’s really hard for people to wrap their heads around the fact that a child as vibrant as Sam could be dying,” Allyson said. The Bucks are trying to show Sam as much of the world as possible in the time they have left: He’s been to 30 states and 19 countries, from Mayan ruins in Mexico, to meeting his hero, Formula One race car driver Sebastian Vettel in Texas. He’s even managed to squeeze in a meeting with the Duchess of Cambridge. “We don’t want waste all our time worrying about what’s to come,” Allyson said. “We know what’s to come. We want to be able to enjoy whatever time we have with him.” It’s not a pretty thought, but it’s a real one for parents of kids suffering from rare diseases. Ninety-five percent of all rare diseases have no treatment options at all. With so few people suffering from them, there is no incentive for research and development of a cure. That’s a fact not lost on Lucas Kolasa, an artist and curator of “Beyond the Diagnosis” -- a collection of intimate portraits of children with rare diseases, like Bertrand, one of the first kids Kolasa painted for the traveling exhibit.  Bertrand was the first patient ever diagnosed with something called NGLY1 deficiency. He has hundreds of seizures every day. “When I painted the portrait, I took the wheelchair out,” Kolasa said. “And I just made him look like he was having a good day. It’s not just a picture; it’s a real person that I’m dealing with.” The objective is to humanize these diseases through portraits of kids like Theodora, who has a fatal heart condition; Megan, who suffers from a rare chromosomal disorder that slows the blood flow to her heart and lungs; and Hannah, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy leading to progressive loss of motor skills. “Maybe somebody will look at this and be inspired to maybe find a cure for it,” Kolasa said. “That would be awesome!” “Beyond the Diagnosis” hopes to eventually put a face to all 7,000 of these rare diseases. “It’s ambitious, but we’re going to do it,” said Patricia Weltin of the Rare Disease United Foundation, who hatched the idea of the exhibit. Her two daughters suffer from rare diseases. “You can’t look at these portraits and not be moved.  You can’t,” Weltin said. … [[{"fid":"1435","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"202","width":"369","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Read and watch the full story online HERE. ###

2016-08-30 7:19 am

Marion Berry's House Member Office (D-AR-01) posted a Blog Post on August 30, 2016 | 7:19 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

Secretary's Remarks: On the Occasion of the Slovak Republic's National Day

Hillary Clinton's State Department Office (D) posted a Press Release on August 30, 2016 | 7:12 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

On the Occasion of the Slovak Republic's National Day


Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 30, 2016


On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I offer my congratulations to the people of Slovakia as you celebrate the 24th anniversary of your constitution on September 1.

The United States and Slovakia enjoy a strong bilateral relationship based on shared interests and values. As President of the Council of the European Union in 2016, Slovakia is demonstrating its regional leadership, respect for the rule of law, and commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration.

Slovakia’s contributions to NATO reflect the spirit and ideals of transatlantic unity and our shared democratic values. The United States will continue to work with Slovakia to confront transnational challenges and enhance security and prosperity in Europe and throughout the world.

The United States remains a steadfast friend and partner to Slovakia. As you gather with family and friends on your national day, I extend my very best wishes for the year to come.

2016-08-30 5:19 am

Marion Berry's House Member Office (D-AR-01) posted a Blog Post on August 30, 2016 | 5:19 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

2016-08-30 3:19 am

Marion Berry's House Member Office (D-AR-01) posted a Blog Post on August 30, 2016 | 3:19 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

2016-08-30 1:22 am

Marion Berry's House Member Office (D-AR-01) posted a Blog Post on August 30, 2016 | 1:22 am - Original Item - Comments (View)
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